Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Good Luck in '08
New Year's has to consist of black-eyed peas and cabbage for good luck. I decided to throw some fried chicken into the mix this year. It's soul food day!
This is a very easy meal to cook because you only really have to watch the chicken. You can almost leave the peas and cabbage to cook themselves. Besides, you don't have to measure anything.
Peas first. A few years ago, I was absolutely distraught because there were no dried black-eyed peas at the grocery store. I had to resort to frozen peas. Now I only use frozen peas!
First, give your flavoring agents a head start. I use smoked turkey wings and onion.
Add water and simmer. I don't know for how long. I use the time to prep everything else, fold clothes, etc. Check the broth for seasoning. Add the peas. Simmer, uncovered, until the black-eyed peas tender, I think mine take a couple of hours. How easy is that? When they are done, the broth will have thickened.
Moving on to the chicken. I'm using wings today. Rinse and pat dry. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you have the time, you should brine the chicken and/or give it a overnight soak in buttermilk. I've found that for wings, the coating we'll add below is pretty protective, so if you're pressed for time, you can skip the brining and soaking.
Set up your breading station: three shallow dishes and a cooling rack set over a pan. Add flour to the first and third dishes, buttermilk to the second. Season all three.
Here is where the debate starts. What's the best seasoning combo? Whatever you like. I will say that this is a great time to break out the seasoned salt and lemon pepper. Hot sauce in the buttermilk saves you a step when you get ready to eat. Make sure you taste the flour. It should taste good! If you're bold, taste the buttermilk too ... I take a leap of faith on mine. The dipping sequence is dry-wet-dry. Make sure you shake off any extra flour or buttermilk before continuing to the next phase.
Place the dipped pieces on a cooling rack. Put the chicken, uncovered, in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, longer if you have the time. This sets the crust. You'll be rewarded later.
Move on to the cabbage. Start by heating a small amount of olive oil -- just enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Saute a smoked turkey wing. I strip the skin and meat from the bone and throw all three into the oil. The traditional way is to fry some bacon and use the drippings for the cabbage. I do it this way because I don't eat pork and turkey bacon doesn't generate enough drippings or flavor by itself.
Prep your cabbage -- cut it in half. cut out the core. Chop and rinse.
Add the cabbage to the oil (you should hear a sizzle). Add it in layers -- cabbage, salt and pepper; cabbage, salt and pepper.
Clamp the lid on and lower the heat to a simmer. Wait about 30 minutes and stir. It should be ready in about an hour. When it's done, I throw in a splash of vinegar.
Back to the chicken. Heat the oil. My starting temp is between 350 and 375. I use canola oil in a cast iron skillet. The oil should come about 3/4 of the way up the chicken. Carefully place the chicken into the pan. Leave it undisturbed until golden brown. I'm using new oil, so golden brown is a bit difficult to achieve. The next time I fry, golden brown will be a snap.
Flip it and brown the other side. A spatter screen is real helpful during this process. Drain on a clean cooling rack.
This meal goes best with cornbread, sweet tea or a Coke!
Best wishes for a blessed New Year!
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